Graeme H McVerry

Citation on the award of Life Membership, April 2015

Graeme McVerry is conferred with Life Membership for his significant contribution to earthquake engineering in New Zealand.

Graeme is a Principal Scientist at GNS Science with just over 40 years of work experience at DSIR and GNS Science. He is New Zealand’s leader in Engineering Seismology, and in the translation and application of seismic hazard information for engineering applications both for site specific evaluation and to loadings standards. Graeme attained his undergraduate degrees in engineering at the University of Auckland before proceeding to CalTec in Los Angeles for his PhD degree in Applied Mechanics. His exceptional mathematical skills and attention to detail have remained the essence of his work and holds him in high regard by both his professional colleagues and his commercial client base who continue to rely on his balanced and well considered opinions to support consent applications. His research interests are primarily in the analysis of strong motion data, and the development of ground motion prediction equations. He has worked extensively in seismic hazard assessments for end-users in the engineering and planning sectors, and recently made major contributions to the development of the new Z-factor for Christchurch.

From early 1970s to present, Graeme has contributed and influenced the design of the New Zealand strong-motion network. During the 1980s to 1990s, Graeme played a significant role in developing the foundation theory behind understanding the seismic response of base-isolated buildings. He is often considered as one of the world’s leading seminal experts on the topic. He wrote the very complex, theoretical component of the book “An Introduction to Seismic Isolation” with lead author Ivan Skinner and co-author Bill Robinson. The book was translated into a Chinese and Japanese version in 1996.

Graeme has been translating the various national seismic hazard models into the Earthquake Loadings Standards, NZS4203 and NZS1170.5 for the last three decades. He is currently actively contributing to the next update of the Standard and to the upcoming NZSEE guidelines on the design fo base isolated buildings.  In this work Graeme has demonstrated a unique skill in translating the scientific basis of the seismology directly into engineering applications. He has applied this skill to assist in the preparation of the NZTA Bridge Manual and into the ICOLD Large Dam Safety evaluation and assessment requirements.

Graeme was a former Management Committee member (1987-88), a Fellow of the Society; he is a member of EERI and an associate member of the Seismological Society of America. He took part in the 1994 Northridge earthquake reconnaissance mission, which brought back valuable lessons to New Zealand.

Graeme’s input and influence in engineering seismology has been considerable.  The Society is very pleased to acknowledge Graeme for his outstanding commitment to earthquake engineering in New Zealand through this award of Life Membership.